It’s come down to this: Total lockdown

It’s come down to this: Total lockdown

The Prime Minister has announced Rs 15,000 crore to improve the medical facilities needed for treatment of infected people. (Credit: PTI Photo)

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s prime time address last Thursday was aimed at telling the nation of the serious threat it faced form the coronavirus and make it ready to face it, he came out with an action plan for that in his address on Tuesday by imposing a total lockdown on the entire country for 21 days. Every state, every city and village will be locked down, and the government has drawn a ‘Lakshman rekha’ around every house. This could be the longest lockdown any country has seen during peacetime. It is a draconian measure, but drastic situations demand drastic solutions. There is no means other than ensuring social distance to keep the virus away, and a lockdown is the only way to do that. It comes cheap but avoiding it might turn costly.  

The Prime Minister has promised that the supply of essential commodities and services will be maintained but has not made it clear how this will be done when not a person can literally move out of his or her house. It is hoped that there would be some arrangements made for that. Some guidelines have been issued which will hopefully be followed and implemented well. If people do not have necessities and essentials for 21 days, life will become difficult. There was already a run on shops everywhere in the country on Tuesday night in preparation for the days ahead. It is expected that people will bear the difficulties that lie ahead with fortitude. The Prime Minister has also told the nation that the challenge may only get more difficult, and we will still have to face it.

The Prime Minister has announced Rs 15,000 crore to improve the medical facilities needed for treatment of infected people. It is anybody’s guess if this will be enough in a worst-case scenario. While he has unveiled an action plan, he was silent about what was most expected of him in this situation. That was to announce a package for the economy and for those who may be affected by the lockdown, especially for the poor. Most countries affected by the virus have done that. Some states in the country have taken some steps in that direction. But the Centre was expected to guide and lead them. The question also arises what would people do with any cash if they cannot stir out of their houses. The people have shown that they are ready to support the government and cooperate with it in the efforts to fight the virus, but the government should support the people in their efforts and fight to sustain themselves for 21 days.

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